Reforming Law Reform

Perspectives from Hong Kong and Beyond


Edited by Michael Tilbury, Simon N. M. Young and Ludwig Ng

ISBN : 978-988-8208-24-1


February 2014

292 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$350.00

As a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong has its own legal system rooted in the common law. Reforms to this system take into account Hong Kong’s unique conditions as an international city and draw widely on practices around the world. Since 1980, recommendations from a Law Reform Commission, chaired by the Secretary for Justice, have resulted in comprehensive revisions in key areas of law, ranging from commercial arbitration and interception of communications to divorce and copyright.

Recently, however, the government has been slow to act on the Commission’s recommendations. Questions have also arisen about whether the Commission—under-resourced, part-time and government-led—can really meet the needs of an increasingly sophisticated society. Is law reform itself also in need of reform? This collection of essays by distinguished experts from around the world seeks answers to the question. The book explores the varied experience of law reform in Hong Kong and other common law jurisdictions and makes recommendations for strengthening the process of law reform both in Hong Kong and elsewhere.

Michael Tilbury is Chair of Private Law and Kerry Holdings Professor of Law in the Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong. Simon N. M. Young is a Professor in the Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong and was formerly Director of the Centre for Comparative and Public Law. Ludwig Ng is a Partner in ONC Lawyers, Hong Kong.

“This important book should be a wake-up call to lawmakers in Hong Kong and beyond on the urgent need for effective law reform. It is especially important for Hong Kong whose competitive advantage is being harmed by institutional paralysis and official lethargy. The editors’ modest recommendations deserve urgent action by Hong Kong’s governors to bring up to date its archaic and outmoded legislation.” —Lord Lester of Herne Hill, QC

“Law reform is essential, especially in these fast-changing times. The law reform agency plays an important role in this process. This work examines the experience of the agency in Hong Kong and elsewhere and discusses how its effectiveness can be enhanced. This valuable contribution deserves to be read.” —The Hon. Andrew Li, Chief Justice of Hong Kong, 1997–2010

“This is probably the first collection in Hong Kong of writings on law reform, examining clinically how law reform is, and can be processed with reference to other law reform institutions, in the pursuit of effectively meeting the often shifting needs of society and economy. Important chapters on reform of different areas of law are also included in this book. The editors and contributors are to be congratulated for masterminding such an admirable source of information and inspirational ideas.” —Stephen Kai-yin Wong, Barrister, Secretary of the Law Reform Commission of Hong Kong

“In this collection of essays the learned editors—Tilbury, Young and Ng—have drawn together an outstanding group of authors, representing many years of experience in law reform across the common law world. From the UK, Canada, Australia and Hong Kong, the insights of the authors are both reflective and forward-looking, providing a rich resource towards ‘reforming law reform’.” —Professor Rosalind Croucher, President, Australian Law Reform Commission